|The People's Palaces
Despite the package tour, Concorde and villas in
Spain, holidaytime is summed up in those magnificent seaside resorts that form a
magic necklace around our coasts. Most were built or developed when the railways
came, in the Victorian age of opulence, unaccustomed mobility, and public
festivals. And almost every resort was punctuated with its winter gardens, pier,
ballroom or palace of varieties.
|Here are the marine extravaganzas, the
piers and pavilions, the alhambra, hippodrome and kursaal entertainment
centres - often combining theatre, circus ring, ballroom, winter garden,
aquarium and sideshows under one roof.
Here too are the theatres, music halls and
concerts and opera houses, with their rich interiors and their wealthy
backers. Here are the glass domes, the crystal palaces, and the
extraordinary skating rinks, observation towers and endless tripper
distractions. Cinema came to the seaside too, and simulated custom-made
Behind these funhouses for the newly
travelled classes were money men, architects and developers - men of vision and
purpose. Yet they did not always succeed in translating their dreamlands into
reality - Dreamland on sea was never built, but the concept was breathtaking.
The resorts remain; so do some of the
people's palaces. The 'seaside style' had come, and some would say, has gone.
There is still a significant pull to the seaside, which is part of our heritage.
Our resorts have a future, and their palaces are part of it.
This is the record of the places, the
buildings and the people behind them, in a fascinating and fluent narrative,
extensively illustrated, and appealing to the armchair traveller, those of us
who cherish our coastal heritage, residents of our resorts and the seasider in
all of us.
The main resorts covered are
Blackpool, Brighton, Douglas IoM, Great Yarmouth, Morecambe and Southport,
together with Bournemouth, Llandudno, New Brighton, Scarborough, Southend,
Southsea, South Shields, Torquay and Whitley Bay.
Also included are Aberystwyth,
Bexhill, Bognor Regis, Bridlington, Clacton, Cleethorpes, Colwyn Bay, Cromer,
Dover, Eastbourne, Felixstowe, Fleetwood, Folkestone, Harwich, Hastings, Herne
Bay, Hunstanton, Ilfracombe, Lowestoft, Lytham St Annes, Paignton, Plymouth,
Ramsgate, Rhyl, Ryde IoW, St Leonards, Sandown IoW, Shanklin IoW, Skegness,
Southampton, Teignmouth, Tynemouth, Westcliff on Sea, Weston-super-Mare,
Weymouth and Worthing.